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Susan Geary CCW is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of 1st RateResumes.
Visit her website at or email her at this link.

Questions from the Mailbag

Here is a list of questions that I recently received from readers and clients.

Most of them are asked on a recurring basis, so I thought I would include them in this week's column.

Should I send a generic cover letter or focus in on a particular job opening? The more focused you are on a particular job opening, the more likely you will get that job. No one wants to hiring an indecisive person. The old saying, you can't be all things to all people applies, so know what you want, and where you want to do it.

When a job opening becomes available, the hiring recruiter is under a lot of pressure to fill the position quickly, with a qualified candidate. They are looking for problem solvers, therefore if you focus your letter on how you can make a positive addition to their newsroom, and state examples of what you did in the past to help your previous employers, you have a much better chance at the job. Whenever possible send your cover letter to the decision maker of the department where you want to work. If you don't know, call and ask. Usually the newsroom secretary can answer those questions.

Get the correct spelling of their name and mailing address. Avoid Human Resources whenever possible. Zeroing in on a particular job means doing some research. Study the station's website. See what stories seem to always be cropping up.

Here's a hint: in Las Vegas, it's a sure bet it will be gaming, in Salt Lake City, the Latter Day Saints, and in Los Angeles, a celebrity in court. Mention what you know about the stories that are regularly covered, your expertise in that area, and what you know about the station's history, ratings, etc. One of the biggest complaints of interviewers is when the job candidates asks questions like "what do you do here?"

As a journalist, you'd better be doing your homework!

Do I need to send references with my resume? Generally no, unless the ad specifically states to include them with your tape and resume. Do not include references on your resume, but on a separate page. Bring the references with you to your job interview. Make sure the letterhead and paper on your references match your resume and cover letter, for a more professional appearance. What goes first on the resume, education, or experience? That depends on what you have more of. If you're a new graduate, then education always goes before experience. After you start getting paid experience than education will get moved closer to the bottom of your resume. Position your headings in order of importance and relevance.

Generally speaking, you'll start with the Summary of Qualifications, then list Experience, Awards, Computer Skills, and Key Words. You can list Volunteer and Leadership Skills in there too. If the Volunteer work is related to the job you're applying for, list it closer to the top as well. If you have a question about your job search, email for help!